Houston – Scotland made Vern Cotter’s debut as coach a winning one, downing the United States 24-6 in a clash between teams that will face each other at next year’s Rugby World cup.
“That was tough, we’re not used to playing in heat like this,” said Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw, but if the tough conditions offered any opportunity to the Americans on Saturday they were unable to take advantage.
The hosts’ early aggression yielded more penalties than chances, and the Scots held them without a try.
“I thought we showed good structure in the first part of the first half and gave ourselves the opportunity to score a couple of tries,” said Cotter, who has been tasked with guiding Scotland through next year’s World Cup.
“Our scrum got the better of their scrum which enabled us to get a grip of the game and also gave us points as well, so that was pleasing.
“Very pleased to see the opportunities created – there’s a good basis to work from.”
Tim Visser and Stuart Hogg scored tries either side of half-time as Scotland made a solid start to a tour that will also include clashes with Canada, Argentina and South Africa in June.
Having lost their last two Six Nations fixtures to France and Wales in March, Scotland bounced back versus the Americans with Laidlaw opening the scoring in the sixth minute with a penalty goal.
The United States struck back through Chris Wyles’s penalty, but Scotland seized control in the 14th when Laidlaw set up Visser for a try.
Laidlaw added the conversion and Scotland led 10-3, while a penalty try in the 31st minute and another kick from the Gloucester scrum-half gave the visitors a 14-point lead at the break.
The US scored first in the second half with another Wyles penalty goal, but Hogg scored Scotland’s third try in the 66th minute with a driving run, before Laidlaw’s third goal stretched their lead to 24-6.
“The most important thing to come out of the game was we never got scored against,” Laidlaw said. “That was very important, to put a marker down in this first game of a tough two.”
US coach Mike Tolkin was frustrated by his team’s struggles.
“The first half of the game we were too aggressive where we shouldn’t have been and got stupid penalties early on.
“We weren’t aggressive where we needed to be, and that was around the fringes of the ruck and off the defensive line, and overall we didn’t do a good enough job holding onto the ball.” – Sapa-AFP